Summer Sale Extended! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Readers Respond
News Opinion Readers Respond

There's no moral equivalency between the Israeli and Palestinian 'narratives'

James W. Dale makes a welcome point in his commentary about the divestment campaign against Israel ("Choosing to stay engaged: Anti-Israel measures like divestment are not the best way to seek justice for Palestinians," May 4).

It is, as he says, vital that mainline churches, including his own Presbyterian Church, understand that anti-Israel "divestment" campaigns render their proponents destructive and deny them a voice at the table.

"Divestment" echoes both the Nazi boycott and impoverishment of German Jews and the Arab League's economic boycott of Israel.

Unfortunately, Pastor Dale offers a highly selective reading of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — even as he warns against doing so. He writes of "the ongoing travesty of the occupation" and claims that the Palestinian Arabs "continue to demand justice from the Israelis, especially the end of the occupation."

But if Palestinian leaders truly wanted to end the "occupation," why did they reject Israel's offers of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — with eastern Jerusalem as its capital — in exchange for peace, in 2000, 2001 and 2008?

Today, there is no Israeli occupation of Gaza, which Hamas attempts to run as an Islamic theocracy. The Palestinian Authority, headed by Fatah, administers daily life of West Bank Arabs, suppressing free speech and the right of assembly in the process.

Pastor Dale warns against "such a simplistic solution" as divestment, but asserts "both narratives at work in Israel and Palestine trade in victimhood" and "each side stakes its credibility on being the bigger victim."

The implied equivalency is itself simplistic, avoiding moral distinctions. Israel built the West Bank security barrier after Palestinian terrorists murdered more than 1,000 Israelis — Jews and Arabs alike. Palestinian Authority television to this day continues to celebrate the perpetrators of terrorist crimes.

By all means let us deal with the complexity of the conflict, hoping to untangle the threads of an equitable peace. But if we insist there is no cause and effect, only equivalent "narratives," we'll never recognize the threads of responsibility for either the bloodshed or for peaceful coexistence.

Eric Rozenman, Washington

The writer is Washington director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Jerusalem a product of Israeli apartheid

    Jerusalem a product of Israeli apartheid

    Jay Bernstein's letter advocating that Israel "maintain exclusive sovereignty" over Jerusalem ignores the fact that Jerusalem today is under an illegal Israeli military occupation, which is universally condemned by the international community of nations ("U.S. should view Jerusalem as Israel's,"...

  • Israel has acted responsibly against Hamas [Letter]

    Israel has acted responsibly against Hamas [Letter]

    The recent letter writer critical of Israeli actions in Gaza ("Israel committed war crimes during its invasion of Gaza," Oct. 1) conveniently forgets the origins of the Gaza conflict and the effort that Israel made to reduce civilian casualties. Hamas for the last eight years has been firing rockets...

  • Hold Israel accountable for war crimes

    Hold Israel accountable for war crimes

    The Sun editorial, "Horror in Peshawar" (Dec.16), describes the Taliban attack in Pakistan that left 140 children dead and states, "What happened there can only be described as an atrocity committed by murderous criminals." Why didn't The Sun equally condemn the actions of Israel, which caused...

  • Israel's actions in Gaza were self-defense

    Israel's actions in Gaza were self-defense

    In condemning Israel for finally taking action to counter terrorist and rocket attacks, Ray Gordon ignores the history of the last nine years of the conflict between Hamas and Israel ("Hold Israel accountable for war crimes," Dec. 23). After Israel voluntarily withdrew from Gaza without any reciprocity,...

  • What if Obama spoke to Knesset?

    What if Obama spoke to Knesset?

    I wonder how Benjamin Netanyahu would feel if President Barack Obama wrangled an invitation from an opposition Israeli politician to push the Obama-Iran plan in the Knesset without informing the Israeli prime minister ("Israel spy HQ bucking premier, opposing Iran sanctions," Jan. 23). But that's...

  • Netanyahu speech was pointed, not 'pointless'

    Netanyahu speech was pointed, not 'pointless'

    After reading the full text of the speech by Benjamin Netanyahu before the joint session of Congress, I beg to disagree with The Sun's analysis that the speech was pointless ("Netanyahu's speech," March 4). The Israeli prime minister described in detail the threat of a flawed nuclear agreement...

  • Netanyahu visit: Maybe Congress should delegate all its policy work to foreign leaders

    Netanyahu visit: Maybe Congress should delegate all its policy work to foreign leaders

    Has Speaker John Boehner has a brilliant idea in inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress on the subject of Iran ("Netanyahu invitation unwise," Jan. 27). What else can he do when, apparently, no Republicans in the House have what it takes to address the issue? Why...

  • Palestinians have more to answer for at the ICC than Israel

    Palestinians have more to answer for at the ICC than Israel

    I must respond to your recent report that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has launched a preliminary probe into alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories ("International Criminal Court opens probe into possible war crimes in Palestinian territories," Jan. 17).